Photo for: Ave Miller On Growing The Cannabis Beverages Category



Ave Miller On Growing The Cannabis Beverages Category

You need to sell people on layering their consumption or time and place for different consumptions.

Your Place Of Work

Uncle Arnies

Tell us a little about your background and journey into Cannabis

My first experience with cannabis was in Portland Oregon when I was 14 years old at my brother's house. I snuck a hit off of his roommate's bowl at the time. Fast forward to high school when I began to sell cannabis to classmates. Fast forward even more to 2017, I began my professional journey into cannabis and was introduced to Cameron Forni & Amy the old COO of Select oil by my roommate at the time who was working for them. They were looking for an experienced manager to run their new facility in Sacramento when they were expanding to California. So I took the leap and started out as their production manager for filling and took on the role of Head Formulator for their carts. After about a year I transitioned to supply chain and helped them scale that side of the business until I left in 2019. I then started a consulting firm and 9 months later after various clients, I landed the opportunity to start the idea of Uncle Arnies with my other cofounder and the rest is history.   

Ave Miller Co-Founder of Uncle Arnies

Image: Ave Miller; Source: Instagram

Explain your current role

Im the Co-Founder of Uncle Arnies and Vice President of Sales. My role is to be the face and voice of our brand and to lead our entire sales operations. Nowadays I'm focused on out-of-state expansion and leading the success of our launches in each new market we go into (managing new client relationships, new partnerships, boots-on-the-ground sales, etc.) and covering seeing our current markets with strategy and management when needed.

What trends do you see in cannabis beverages?

I think in today's age of beverage it's too new still. People are still wanting to be convinced and sold beverages. Minor cannabinoids, live resin, etc.. are two segments that are interesting, but the data in all states aren't showing that it's making the needle move like in other categories. 

What tips do you have on growing the category when it comes to product development?

Make your drinks taste good, Be authentic to your brand, and don't make drinks for yourself, make them for the consumers and what they want to be based on the data. The category doesn't need 40 different lemonades and seltzers.

Ave Miller of Uncle Arnies

Image: Ave Miller; Source: Instagram

What are the 3 things that we can educate end consumers more on in growing end-consumer awareness?

1, It's all about layering and how you use your cannabis. Consumers are stuck on the "I only smoke flower mindset" and we as beverage companies are trying to sell and advocate "beverage will replace xyz". When in reality it's new and other forms have been around for hundreds of years. You need to sell people on layering their consumption or time and place for different consumptions. Examples like, instead of smoking a joint while you're cooking & eating, enjoy a cannabis beverage and after you eat, if you feel like it, go smoke a joint. When you're at a birthday party and you don't want to drink or go outside to smoke instead drink your cannabis. 2, Dosing, brands are trying to box consumers on dosing when in reality "legacy" consumers may need lower doses or higher doses. New consumers, the "soccer moms" may need a high dose or lower dose. People don't know until they try on how much cannabis they need. I've met people who have never used that need 200mg out the gate and I've met people smoking for 50 years that can only handle 10-20mg. 3, ways to consume. Mocktails, mixing in smoothies, drinking straight up, etc.   

Uncle Arnies

Image: Uncle Arnies; Source: Instagram

Which states / markets do you think present good growth opportunities for cannabis beverages in 2023-2024

WA, NV, OR, and NY

What do you think are the current challenges in the cannabis beverage category

The markets are just not considerate of beverages. Every new state, because the beverage is such a new concept, has only considered flowers/concentrates/baked or cooked goods as a means to consume. In turn, this means the retailers haven't invested in the placement for drinks - or the placement that they do have they aren't merchandising it correctly. A lot of states that have beverages don't even put them in the fridges where they need to go, they use that for concentrates and then they expect the brands to provide that for them. When they are the retail establishment and need to invest in that placement themselves for decades to come. 

If you were to give advice to a first-time cannabis beverage consumer, what tips would you give?

Slow and steady wins the race. You can't get less high, but you can always get higher. So start low and build your way to your desired dose.

Uncle Arnies

Image: Ave Miller; Source: Instagram

Your favourite cannabis beverage brands?

Uncle Arnies DUH, Mari Y Juana, some of Tribes stuff in OR they are freshly pressed, those are probably top that I have tried. To pay homage to some things that I think are truly good in the market right now.  

What do you look for when you purchase a cannabis beverage brand?

Price & flavor, I don't pay too much attention to the brand. If it's new ill try to and if those two things hit then ill look at the brand. 

Any out-of-the-box ideas you have for bud-tenders in promoting and educating the cannabis beverage category?

If you personally don't enjoy it - don't bash it bring someone else in that has another experience because your suggestion will make or break it for them. And who knows, maybe if the suggestion was nonbias then they may enjoy it. They haven't had the experience yet so they don't know if they will like it. So just be aware that your voice is extremely powerful in this situation. 


If you were to make a new cannabis beverage today? What sort of product would you make and why

I don't think I would. What we are building at Uncle Arnies is everything that I have ever dreamed of and we are doing everything we ever wanted to and will. 

If you were to market and distribute that cannabis beverage, what would be your top 3 areas you would focus on?

Quality, Accessibility, and fun.

Header Image: Ave Miller; Source: Instagram